Professor David Oglethorpe, Dean of Cranfield School of Management discusses Gareth Southgate’s leadership style:
“It’s been fascinating to see the interest in Gareth Southgate’s leadership of the England team. Leaders from all walks of life naturally look to draw comparisons between their own style and those around them – particularly those in the public eye – and there is a lot to learn from the England manager.
“It’s not so much about the performance and results but about Southgate’s personal attributes and his rigid adherence to the ethos that ‘no one is bigger than the team’. This, of course, is not new and, in fact, it’s central to the way we teach here at Cranfield. But, in a sport renowned for big personalities and even bigger egos, it’s an area where many England managers have come unstuck during the last 55 ‘years of hurt’.
“Southgate excels by ensuring his team is greater than the sum of its parts in three ways.
“Firstly, egos are simply not allowed. We see this clearly in the way the manager and the players consistently talk about the team rather than individual performances. It’s no coincidence that those teams with big personalities – Portugal, Spain and even Wales – have not progressed in this competition.
“Secondly, leave setbacks behind. Southgate recognises his own vulnerabilities and what has happened in the past but, for this group, he is clear that the performance of previous teams and players has nothing to do with their potential.”
“Finally, don’t over-celebrate early success. Southgate chided himself for a release of emotion following the victory over Denmark because he knows that the team must never underestimate the continued task ahead and risk complacency.
“Southgate is not alone in his approach to leadership in football. He is indicative of a new breed of manager who leads through authenticity and building trust, rather than the more traditional bluster and bravado of football managers of the past. Business leaders would do well to pay particular attention on Sunday evening.”